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Nunsense is a comedic musical. Five of the 19 surviving Little Sisters of Hoboken, a one-time missionary order that ran a leper colony on an island south of France, discover that their cook, Sister Julia, accidentally killed the other fifty-two residents of the convent with her tainted vichyssoise soup while they were off playing bingo with another group of nuns. Upon discovering the disaster, Mother Superior had a vision in which she was told to start a greeting card company to raise funds for the burials. The greeting cards were an enormous success and, thinking there was plenty of money, the Reverend Mother bought a VCR and camcorder for the convent, leaving her with no money left to pay for the last four burials. The remaining bodies are put in the deep freezer for the time being and they decide to stage a variety show in the Mount Saint Helen's School auditorium to raise the necessary amount.
The five nuns performing are Mother Superior Mary Regina, a former circus performer who can not resist the spotlight; her competitive but dignified rival, second-in-command Sister Mary Hubert; Sister Robert Anne, a streetwise nun from Brooklyn who drives the convent car; Sister Mary Leo, a novice who wants to be the world's first ballerina nun; and wacky, childlike Sister Mary Amnesia, who lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head.
The musical contains examples of:
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: There is no fourth wall in the show.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Sister Mary Amnesia comes across as one.
- Deadpan Snarker: Sister Mary Hubert, especially when paired with the Reverend Mother.
- Deus Ex Machina: A textbook example. When Amnesia remembers that she's actually Sister Mary Paul, it turns out that before losing her memory she had won the Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes. This has not been brought up before, and it resolves the entire plot. Like everything else, it's Played for Laughs
- Five Nun Band: The Hero: Reverend Mother Mary Regina
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Nunsense lives and breathes on this trope--it's incredibly risque for a show about nuns. Some examples include:
- Pretty much the entire cookbook scene. Notable recipes included "Mary Magdalene Tarts" and "Boy Scout Treats."
Sister Mary Amnesia: Ahem. Boy Scout Treats. First, get twelve Brownies, very hot...
- Sister Mary Amnesia, describing a clock with the Apostles substituting for numbers.
Sister Mary Amnesia: I always know, that when the big hand is on the John and the little hand is on the Peter, it's time for all the sisters to go down on their knees! *beat* And pray!
- Lampshaded by the other characters in the scene, whose horrified reactions make the line even funnier.
- Intoxication Ensues: Sister Robert Anne finds something in the girls' locker room and brings it to the Reverend Mother. In the next scene, the Reverend Mother looks to see what it was that Sister Robert Anne was making a big deal of and finds that it is a little bottle labeled "Rush". After a two or three sniffs of it, she starts acting rather loopy, to the amusement of the audience.
- Lethal Chef: Sister Julia, Child of God, is one, as her vichyssoise soup is responsible for the death of fifty-two sisters.
- Nuns Are Funny: The entire premise of the Nunsense.
- Ventriloquism: Sister Mary Amnesia does a ventriloquist act in one scene, with a dummy called Sister Mary Annette, who says things a proper nun should not say.